Fear of Images

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This essay The Image Culture, by Christine Rosen covers the history of opposition to images from today to biblical times:

They have, by their sheer number and ease of replication, become less magical and less shocking—a situation unknown until fairly recently in human history. Until the development of mass reproduction, images carried more power and evoked more fear. The second of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20 warns against idolizing, or even making, graven images: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

The essay is has a snippet from most commentators on the image, it is a resource. It is a full on part of the anti image culture for all that, and it is interesting how this philosophy comes part and parcel with conservative and Christian politics.

The net has fairly recently become more image centric. Youtube & flickr are evidence of the ubiquity of digital image making hardware and of the broadband to make use of it. But there is another wave that is possible. Built into Vista and no doubt every OS in the future is the ability to use a touch screen. Strangely photography took longer to develop than simple drawing & painting, on the net it looks as if sketching will come later than text and photos. It will come. The slate was an early educational tool (my parents used slates at school, paper was too expensive) the digital slate is a natural as kids learn to read & write online in a digital world. They will draw!

Ubiquity of the hand hewn digitally born image is a possibility, that it lags is possibly due to the fear of the image and dominance of the word.

Mcluhan probably had all this in mind, that in the electronic era, there would be a demise of the word. However we know now that nothing is ever replaced or lost, rather it transforms. Her final point that because we have more images we will have less meaning & not be able to transmit culture is just nonsense.

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